We Think We Know Ourselves, But We Don’t

The final and ultimate mystery is oneself. I think that is a book the end of which we’ll never reach.

Image of a man’s reflection in a puddle for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Randy Jacob on Unsplash

The final and ultimate mystery is oneself. I think that is a book the end of which we’ll never reach.

The greatest mystery that exists for humanity is ourselves. We don’t know who we are beyond our physical selves and surface-level personalities. We don’t know our own minds, let alone the minds of others, yet we pursue ourselves in the world and through others. We have become hypnotised by bright shiny things and men in red ties with fantastic stories of how we can achieve happiness.

It seems we are absolutely lost in a world we didn’t make.

In spite of our advanced technology, we are arguably primitive. We drop bombs on each other, drive for hours in traffic just to get to jobs we despise, and mistreat one another in service of self-interest. But at the same time, we are capable of showing compassion and empathy, and we make such beautiful things.

We are self-destructive, yet we are self-creative. It’s a dichotomy I am still reconciling.

We are complicated and the deeper I go into psychoanalysis, the more complicated I realise us to be. This mode of study in which I’m engaged feels like I’m standing on the edge of an abyss about to jump off.

About four years ago, I picked up a dose of pneumonia. I never felt anything as debilitating as it before or since. I had no control over my body, and my lungs couldn’t cope with as much as two or three steps. It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, and I thought my time was up.

It was scary but exhilarating at the same time.

“The final mystery is oneself. When one has weighed the sun in the balance, and measured the steps of the moon, and mapped out the seven heavens star by star, there still remains oneself. Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?” ― Oscar Wilde

This exploration into the nature of the psychic life of human beings feels the same way, without, of course, the physical illness and the anticipation of annihilation.

Last night I realised with a particular weight of certainty, that notwithstanding the efforts of the self-righteous and the well-meaning goody too-shoes of this world, you and I can never fix ourselves.

Those who believe we can are tantamount to naive enthusiasts of life. They are those who have discovered themselves as independent of the collective thought structure of the world.

Fair play, congratulations, I’m happy for you. But the reality of the situation is that you cannot, no matter how enthusiastic you are, pull yourself up by your own shirt collars.

If the broken you that needs fixing is the same you that will be the fixer, how do you propose to bring that situation about?

Until we wake up to this fact the world, nor the people in it, will change for the better. Until then, we’ll continue to be on the receiving or giving end of some solution or other to the illness that is the human condition.

My advice for what it’s worth? Just get on with it. You only get one life that we know of, so best to make peace with who you are, and while you are here, make some worthwhile.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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